The Han River in Seoul, from pedestrians’ viewpoint, lies too vast to grasp. The north and south of the river appear socially disconnected in many ways. Bridges seem like urban highways. From one side of the river, one can experience only the linear riverbank that belongs to the side at a time, and the exploring the river itself and scenery of the other side across the river is hardly achievable for pedestrians. Constructed adjacent to the Jam-Soo Bridge, an almost uniquely pedestrian-friendly bridge of the river, the Seoul Floating Islands not only extend the pedestrian access, but also offer unprecedented architectural experiences to visitors. Three man-made islands accommodate various civic uses including performance theaters, boat houses, restaurants, while taking the illustrative form of a flower in different stages – Seed, Bud and Blossom – to symbolize birth and progress of the civilization. One of the architectural goals was to create sculptural monuments when viewed from any distance. More specific missions were to dynamically weave pedestrian paths and places to help citizens closely experience the river. From the riverbank, people are naturally ushered into the fluid bridge leading to innovative three island features. Each island, enveloped with unique layers of building skin systems, allows people to choose from variable experiences of spaces -- interiors, exteriors, rooftops and balconies of the structure. Experience of the river is expanded and diversified with the features and functions generously offered by the islands. The scenery of the river is no longer limited by nature, but is ingenuously constructed. Transcending the conventional, passive experience – observing architectural monuments from a riverside, the Seoul Floating Islands engage people dynamically with the urban river, creating vibrant civic promenades on a constructed, floating scenery.
Location: Seoul, Korea
Additional Credits: H Architecture
Kim Yongkwan [photographer]